How to make the most boring material sound interesting

Many times I have heard people complain that they cannot possibly give an interesting presentation because the material that they have to present is fundamentally boring. Maybe it is accounting information, statistics on percentage of faults in different products, or a list of projects that their team has been working on.

Are there any methods in which you can liven up a supposedly boring talk? Of course there are! In fact there are three clear tactics that you can use – anecdotes, the employment of interesting associated information/action plans, and the bringing “alive” of the talk by creating visual images in people’s minds.

Let’s assume that you need to talk about your costs and sales revenues for the past 6 months and what you expect to happen during the next 6 months. You could ramble on about how each of your products has performed and how your costs have varied over the past and how you can expect them to improve (or deteriorate) over the next six months. While speaking about this it is most interesting to see how long it takes people to look “bored out of their minds” and perhaps award a prize to the person who manages to look interested in your presentation for the longest.

What are the solutions?

Anecdote: There is almost certainly something interesting that you can explain about why, for example, marketing costs fell during the period of February to April. Maybe it was because the company website had shot up the rankings and now appeared on page 1 of all the major search engines, thus reducing the need for alternative marketing strategies. Describe how this occurred and, in particular, why your company was able to jump above the opposition; this is where your presentation can really come alive - perhaps it was down to the Marketing Director’s nerdy 17 year-old son, or that the Commercial Director has close links to a key person who works in Google.

Employment of interesting associated information.

Could it be that the improvement in sales figures for a particular product represents one of the highest growth figures in the entire industry? If so exclaim this information enthusiastically. Maybe the sales figures for a product represent a depressing downward trend – explain why in determined tones (mixed in with some humour perhaps) e.g. “Our competitors have been cheating by offering huge discounts which we cannot match, but we can fight back – we will offer our clients an after sales service that our competitors can only dream of.”

Creating visual images in people’s minds.

If you have to explain where all the costs arise from manufacturing your product or selling your service don’t just list them out in a routine fashion but explain with visual images, possibly by linking them to real people that undertake the tasks; this enables the audience to picture what’s happening. Creating pictures in people’s minds greatly increases their chances of listening to you as the two key senses (sight and sound) are being employed instead of just one (sound). Talk about Samantha preparing invoices, Keith sending out quotations. Tom bravely manning the telephones.

And there is one other point – often the reason a presentation is boring is because the presenter believes that it is boring and, as a result, talks in a monotonous voice.

There is a golden rule – if you sound interested in what you are saying, then you significantly increase the chances of the audience’s interest in what you say.